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Grow new organic farmers in the Garden State by providing access to training, mentorship, and an online video learning library!
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167 backers pledged $20,945 to help bring this project to life.

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$20,945

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New Jersey is an agricultural paradox.

A state with high population density and high development pressure, New Jersey also has a high demand for local and organic food, and a culture that supports land preservation and resource conservation. The richness of the land, length of the growing season, and size of the market provide an extraordinary opportunity for beginning farmers, while the high costs of living, soaring land costs, and declining farm infrastructure present a daunting challenge for those same beginning farmers.

Urban and suburban communities all around the state are driving up the demand for local and organic food. Farmers’ markets have exploded to over 140 in the Garden State, up from 40 in 2000. However, the greatest downfall of most markets is there are generally too few farmers, and specifically too few, if any, organic producers.

This is where we step in.

The NOFA-NJ Beginning Farmer Program bridges the gap for beginning farmers seeking support and education by making training more accessible and affordable to the beginning organic farmer in New Jersey. Three ways in which we do this are through: 

  • Beginning farmer scholarships to increase access to learning and skill development opportunities.
  • A new online video learning library for those seeking more information.
  • Mentorship to provide an experienced farmer’s guidance.

Over the past three years, our Beginning Farmer Program, the only one of its kind in the state, has granted over 300 beginning farmer scholarships, offered over 30 technical workshops, organized numerous business intensive trainings, and responded to over 400 technical assistance requests for beginning organic farmers. This program offers qualified beginning farmers scholarship opportunities for educational courses on topics ranging from organic certification to business planning and organic orchard management to tractor safety and maintenance.

"I eat organic food! I want to support my local farmers! What can I do to help Grow New Organic Farmers in New Jersey?"

Your financial contribution goes DIRECTLY towards supporting beginning sustainable and organic farmers in New Jersey:

  • $20,000 for Scholarships - The hefty capital investment required by farm businesses, combined by New Jersey’s high cost of living, places a considerable financial burden on beginning farmers, often pushing the cost of education out of their reach. Many beginning farmers have stated that without the scholarships awarded to them by NOFA-NJ, they could not have afforded to attend these courses and conferences that have provided them the skills and knowledge they needed to improve their farm businesses.Through the scholarship program, NOFA-NJ is able to subsidize the cost of training for beginning farmers and provide access to the information needed for farm production and business success. 

"STRETCH" GOALS

Once we've reached our $20,000 minimum to support beginning organic and sustainable farmers by increasing their access to educational opportunities through scholarships, we hope to raise the following to further increase a beginning organic farmer's chance of success:

  • $5,000 for Online Video Learning Library - With this additional $5,000 NOFA-NJ will create a technical video learning library comprised of short informational videos recorded at on-farm workshops and interviews and broadcast them via a new NOFA-NJ YouTube channel, accessible to beginning farmers throughout the nation. These videos will also publicize educational and farming opportunities in New Jersey and encourage beginning farmers to continue their education through in-person trainings and consultations.
  • $5,000 for Mentorship - Add more mentors to our Mentoring Program! NOFA-NJ’s Mentoring Program provides new farmers the expert guidance they need from experienced farmers who've “been there.” Mentor farmers are linked with beginning farmers and provide advice and support during these critical years of building a business. Good mentorship is valuable and often good mentors are working farmers themselves. For this reason, NOFA-NJ compensates mentors for their time spent supporting and guiding beginning farmers. 
  • Every $1,000 more sends FIVE MORE beginning farmers to our Annual Winter Conference, a 2 day event with over 50 workshops and over 600 people in attendance.

Risks and challenges

Growing New Organic Farmers addresses the education access needs of new farmers in a densely-populated, highly developed state. Through the design and implementation of our training program, a couple issues were identified as possible obstacles. NOFA-NJ must:

-Design trainings that are attractive to new farmers that they feel are instrumental to their success. Historically, workshops we’ve designed specifically in response to farmers’ requests have had the highest enrollment; this Kickstarter will enable even more beginning organic and sustainable farmers in New Jersey to attend these workshops and courses vital to their development.

-Ensure that the outreach surrounding these trainings and available scholarship opportunities reaches a large number of potential and current beginning farmers. Central to our outreach strategy is partnership with mentor farmers to recruit beginning farmers at the intern/apprentice level. By partnering with the mentor farmers, who employ a large number of interns and apprentices on their own farms, we are confident we will develop a long-term relationship with the very ‘beginners’ who would benefit most from the opportunities afforded them by this Kickstarter campaign.

By designing trainings based on mentor farmer feedback, we will be ensuring their support of programs and a steady flow of beginning farmers seeking additional training, mentorship, and scholarship opportunities.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    HEARTFELT THANK YOU ON NOFA-NJ HOMEPAGE
    Thank you for supporting this project! Every bit helps to train more successful organic farmers in the Garden State to meet the growing demand for organic food. Your name will be displayed on our website's homepage as a backer of Growing New Organic Farmers!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    NOFA-NJ FLOWER POT WITH BASIL SEEDS
    Need some basil to go with that Jersey tomato you just picked up at the farmers market? Don't worry, we've got you covered with this NOFA-NJ FLOWER POT WITH BASIL SEEDS! Your name will also be displayed on our website's homepage as a backer of Growing New Organic Farmers.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    NOFA-NJ FARMERS MARKET TOTE BAG
    Show off at the farmers market that YOU are helping to grow new organic farmers in the Garden State with this NOFA-NJ two toned gusseted, heavyweight canvas FARMERS MARKET TOTE BAG! You will also receive a NOFA-NJ FLOWER POT WITH BASIL SEEDS and your name will be displayed on our website's homepage as a backer of Growing New Organic Farmers!

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    NOFA-NJ INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP
    Support new farmers in the Garden State AND reap the benefits of a NOFA-NJ membership for 1 year! Your name will also be displayed on our website's homepage as a backer of Growing New Organic Farmers, you'll also receive both a NOFA-NJ FLOWER POT WITH BASIL SEEDS and a NOFA-NJ FARMERS MARKET TOTE BAG!

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    20 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    2 HARVEST DINNER TICKETS
    Our Annual Harvest Dinner features farm-to-table tastings from over a dozen of New Jersey's finest restaurants, chefs, and caterers, plus local wines and craft beers, a dessert room, a silent auction, music, and dancing! Your name will also be displayed on our website's homepage as a backer of Growing New Organic Farmers, you will receive a NOFA-NJ FLOWER POT WITH BASIL SEEDS, NOFA-NJ FARMERS MARKET TOTE BAG, and a NOFA-NJ INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP for 1 year!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    2 WINTER CONFERENCE REGISTRATIONS
    Receive two 2-day registrations to our 26th Annual Winter Conference held at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ in January 2016. The Winter Conference attracts hundreds of farmers, gardeners, foodies, healthcare practitioners, scientists, and more every year with workshop tracks for everyone! Your name will also be displayed on our website's homepage as a backer of Growing New Organic Farmers you will receive a NOFA-NJ FLOWER POT WITH BASIL SEEDS, NOFA-NJ FARMERS MARKET TOTE BAG, a NOFA-NJ INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP for 1 year, and 2 HARVEST DINNER TICKETS!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    2 INVITES TO FARM TO TABLE DINNER WITH SPECIAL GUEST CHEF
    This exclusive farm to table dinner with a special guest chef is so exclusive we can't even tell you who the chef is! But, we can assure you the dinner will be out of this world and expertly prepared with the freshest local ingredients. Receivers of this award must be NJ locals and/or willing to travel to the dinner destination on your own dime. Your name will also be displayed on our website's homepage as a backer of Growing New Organic Farmers you will receive a NOFA-NJ FLOWER POT WITH BASIL SEEDS, NOFA-NJ FARMERS MARKET TOTE BAG, a NOFA-NJ INDIVIDUAL MEMBERSHIP for 1 year, 2 HARVEST DINNER TICKETS, and 2 WINTER CONFERENCE REGISTRATIONS!

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Funding period

- (30 days)